Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

Challenge 6 ~ “A book written by someone under 30.”

Rooftoppers

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

As a Carnegie nominee I was expecting much more than this book seemed to deliver. The blurb promised adventure and the reviews promised magic, neither of which was really conveyed with any strength. The characters were in place, developed well, and there was a plot worthy of development, but the story was let down by the pacing.

For a novel telling the tale of homeless children in Paris, a lot of time was spent in England. Time is always required to set the scene adequately, but the balance in this book was off; proportionally, too much time was spent in England that the (clearly well-researched) adventures of the “non-street children” of Paris could only be superficially explored, and consequently felt a little rushed. The ending, whilst being rather poetic, was abrupt. Of the two simultaneous stories – Sophie’s search for her mother, and that of the Parisian rooftoppers – the end was more appropriate for the later, whilst the main focus of the novel seemed to dwell on the former. It was as if there had been a debate over which would be the predominant storyline, with a concrete conclusion never being reached.

Chapter 28 (the penultimate chapter) hit the nail on the head, with a wonderful balance of action, adventure, plot, pace, character and description. It exemplified how the entire novel should have been written if it were to do justice the promising storyline from which it began, and proved that Rundell had the potential to create a fantastic (and award-winning) novel. Unfortunately the talent that shone in this chapter, and through the characters and description of others, was betrayed by bad pacing, making what could have been a page-turner more of a struggle to read.

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